Mountain Bike Experience and Affect
This research explores mountain bike experiences, with an emphasis on the affective ride sensations that are felt when descending. The concept of affect negotiates the relationships between social history, the mountain bike subculture and riding practice. These contexts intertwine to enable the realisation of heightened and deep affective experiences. Utilising the voices of dedicated recreational mountain bikers, this thesis describes the functional exchanges in the mountain bike subculture. The complex social-body relationship is explored using Bourdieusian theories of field, habitus and capital. Such concepts provide a framework for examining the research material, and help connect the interview responses thematically. The mountain bike social history locates these relationships, and values the past in the creation of the narrative. The descriptive accounts from riders illustrate the role that affective sensations play in their involvement. The research follows a qualitative bricolage methodology, where phenomenology is nested within social constructivism. Dual methods were used to ensure the embodied phenomenological accounts were grounded in the social. The qualities of the mountain bike subculture, environment and trail components are encompassed in the complexity of lived affective experiences. Semi-structured interviews were used to gather data from 12 mountain bike riders. Using a postmodern lens, the researcher’s reflexivity is entwined in the research process and acts as a point of reference. The postmodern lens accounts for the fluid and flux nature of action sport, and appreciates the role of self-referentiality in deep conceptualisations of affect.The findings extend theoretical constituents on mountain biking by defining affect inducing terrain and obstacles. Affective terrain is examined, with individual obstacles such as jumps, drops, chutes and fast sections creating distinctive ride moments. The riders describe the affective sensations such as weightlessness, gravity acting in and on the body, and their primal cravings for speed. The results provide information for industry professionals to design and maintain mountain bike tracks that are desired by dedicated riders. Trail managers may use these insights for planning, site selection, terrain, gradient, elevation and the inclusion of specific obstacles. The findings highlight how the strongest ride affects are evoked by the accumulation of affective moments on various technical and challenging obstacles. The results found that affective assemblages are created through interlinking terrain-bike-body associations. The corpus of data provides richly textured descriptions of the sensuous mountain biking body, and extends theoretical strands for this affective action sport. This thesis contributes to theoretical knowledge in the areas of affective theorising, action sport, subcultural studies and mountain biking.
Advisor: Boyes, Mike; Carr, Anna
Degree Name: Doctor of Philosophy
Degree Discipline: School of Physical Education, Sport and Exercise Science.
Publisher: University of Otago
Keywords: Mountain; Biking; Cycling; Affect; Experience; Bike; Ride
Research Type: Thesis